Keep Moving. The World Won’t Stop.

November 12th, 2009 No comments

Curve balls. We all get them from time to time. It could be the loss of a job, an important possession or asset, a partner, a friend or a loved one. Or a cancer diagnosis. Such things aren’t easy to take, and they can certainly take us by surprise. We are suddenly struck by an unforgiving and unfeeling force, and sometimes we are given no explanation or reason as to why it occurs. When it happens, it’s as though the rug has been swept out from under us, and that instability can be frightening. But it doesn’t always have to be. The tides ebb and flow, and so must we ride with them, or be pulled in. It’s times such as these, when the truly creative show their true and brilliant colors. It’s about getting lemons and making lemonade. And yes, that is one heck of a “Pollyanna” cliche, but so what? Playing “The Glad Game” not only energizes the spirit; it builds strength and stamina, and in the end, it makes you smarter and stronger… it makes you a better problem solver… and hopefully, a more loving human being.

Adversity creates pressure, and a couple things can happen from there. Pressure has the ability to crush or overwhelm, but depending on the individual and how he or she responds to a particular situation, there are infinite possibilities in terms of outcomes. Again, faith comes into play, and the ability to see things in ways that provide opportunities… and solutions.

At this time, I would like to share with you an amazing story about an amazing little boy whose time here on Earth was short (he was with us for only six years), but whose light was so bright, it will be remembered and carried on for many years to come, and in fact; will likely grow brighter and brighter. His name was Pablo Castelaz.

PabloHair1

Pablove Across America – When Out of Loss Comes Love.

He was the son of Jo Ann Thrailkill and Jeff Castelaz, and the little brother of Grady Gallagher. On May 17, 2008, Pablo was diagnosed with bilateral Wilms’ Tumor, a rare form of children’s cancer. The cancer appeared out of nowhere, with no warning signs in Pablo’s general demeanor or health. He underwent treatment at Childrens Hospital Los Angeles. On June 27, 2009, Pablo’s individual fight with cancer ended. But we fight on in his name, with the spirit of love that Pablo embodied and inspired.

Needless to say, Pablo’s passing was a tremendous blow to his family and beloved friends. When someone so young, bright, beautiful and full of life is suddenly taken from us, we are left wondering how and why the greater powers of the universe can manifest something so seemingly senseless. This sort of loss is just the kind that either wields the power to destroy or transform. Everyone who knew Pablo was touched by his loving spirit, and the same is true even for those who didn’t know him–and this continues to be the case. That being said, destruction and despair were not options for Pablo’s family and friends. The love is too great; and therefore, can only result in a transformation that results in something more meaningful: a passionate race to save the lives of others, and to make the world a better place; also known as Pablove Across America. The mission is simple: 3000 Miles. 30 Days. 1 Fight. A salute to Pablo, Jeff and Jo Ann, Lance Armstrong, the cyclists, and everyone else who fights to keep dreams, hope and happiness alive. May love forever reign. To see how you can join in the race and fight against childhood cancer please visit http://www.pablove.org/donate/ .

The last day of the ride is Saturday, November 21st (of ’09). Any and all cyclists who wish to join in are encouraged to do so. Visit http://www.Pablove.org/news/ for details.

This goes out to the cyclists on their journey–inspiring tunes help!

Mike Snow – Animal

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Vampires. We Love the Way They Suck.

October 14th, 2009 1 comment
The king of bad boys, Count Dracula.

The king of bad boys, Count Dracula.

Ah, yes. ‘Tis a love that never dies. What is it about these mesmerizing, terrifying, brilliant, horrible, irresistible, loathsome, disgusting, delicious, god-forsaken, sexy creatures of the night that holds our attention? I’ll be damned if I know, but I DARE you to Google them (vampires)… You will get about 60,400,000 results! Can you believe that “hairstyles” only has 7,140,000? I am in the wrong business. Time to start sucking some blood–whoa–! I just realized the horrifying truth about the forces of Wall Street… and goodness only knows who else…

So really. What is it about vampires? Is it the notion that they play to our darkest fantasies, and maybe–just maybe… the idea that MAYBE… if they were real… that if one of us were to be bitten… that we wouldn’t die; but rather, would be chosen to join this stunning clan of ferocious fiends–and we, too, could live forever, have super-human strength, fly around–and taste the forbidden liquid of life? GRR-ross! …Or is it, “Mmm-magnificent!” …?

Whatever it is, it is without a doubt; a multi-billion dollar business when one includes movies, TV shows, books, and costumes. November 24, 2008, The L.A. Times reported that Twilight took in $70.6 million, and a later report by the Wall Street Journal stated the film grossed $382 million, worldwide. The same report claims that the Twilight books have thus far sold over 53 million copies, which still doesn’t beat Harry Potter, but maybe they just need a bit of time–and Harry does have more time in, incidentally. The next movie, Twilight – New Moon premieres in L.A. on November 16th, and nationwide on November 20th.

Of course, the world’s obsession with vampires hardly begins and ends with the Twilight series. On the contrary; these tales and legends go back thousands of years and are prevalent in nearly every culture in our world. Here’s an interesting little blog that seems to attempt to turn every vampire stone that ever was: http://vampiresaz.webs.com/. Another contemporary and popular story worth noting is HBO’s True Blood, based on the series, The Southern Vampire Mysteries by Charlaine Harris, first published in 2001. Interestingly enough, both story lines (True Blood and Twilight) offer chronicles of good and evil vampires. It’s interesting because that seems to be something of a recent trend–good (or at least good enough to allow a nibble) vampires, that is. From NBC’s short-lived Dark Shadows (12 episodes in ’91, which was a rehashing of the 1966 show) to Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Moonlight, to the current cinematic blood buffet, there seems to be a sort of poetic need to reach out to these otherwise, murderous and soulless beings. THAT–is a girl thing. I guarantee it. “Oh, but I can save him…” Nope. You can’t. “Oh, but together, we can take on the bad ones, and save the world!” Hmm. Nope. Wrong, again. But… that is why there is fiction, in which one can make up whatever one wants. And as for female vampires looking to seduce an unwitting male victim… well, let’s just say these gals really don’t need much in terms of salvation. As long as she has the right parts, she can get the job done, and it doesn’t even matter if she smiles and shows off her fangs. The guy will probably think, “Gee, she’s got some long sharp teeth, all right,” and then she’ll “kiss” him… on the neck… and that will be that. He will die because he is too dumb to be turned into a vampire. Who wants to haul that dude around ’til the end of time? Only seriously cool and sharp people get to be vampires.

Here are a few scenes from some of my favorite fang-filled flicks…

From The Hunger:

From Fright Night:

Dracula, featuring the one and only Bela Lugosi:

Nosferatu:

…And here are some other entertaining posts about vampires:

http://scifiwire.com/2009/10/16-sexy-movie-and-tv-vamp.php

http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qn4176/is_20071014/ai_n21049073/

http://www.angelfire.com/biz4/vampyreresearch/faq.html#answer%20fourteen

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Shakin’ It Out with Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe.

September 23rd, 2009 No comments
Karl Denson at the mich with trumpet player Chris Littlefield to his right.

Karl Denson at the mic, and trumpet player Chris Littlefield to his right.

Creativity springs to life when this band comes into action, which I can personally attest to, having had the pleasure to see them live at Milwaukee’s Turner Hall Ballroom, September 16th. It’s really this simple: Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe is a must-see/hear for anyone who loves music. If you like to be moved by a performance–and by what you listen to, then you will seriously enjoy KDTU for the basic fact that you just can’t sit still. In fact, I recommend avoiding caffeinated beverages beforehand. And if you’re a fan of acid jazz, or fusion… well, chances are, you already know about them. Karl, himself, is a live wire on stage. Vibrant and energetic; he plays sax, the flute and the calabash, and, of course; he sings. And when he plays his sax–it’s as if he’s singing… you can almost hear the words. The Tiny Universe is a band of six musicians; each of which is deftly sound on his own, but together; they are the X-Men of music. Members are as follows: Denson (saxophone, flute), Ron Johnson (bass), Chris Littlefield (trumpet), Brian Jordan (guitar), David Veith (keyboards) and John Staten (drums). It’s clear that performing makes them happy. Their music is succinctly uplifting and invigorating, despite some of the indubitable blues tones, but on the other hand, that is why folks sing and play blues in the first place–to get rid of them. Speaking of the blues, KDTU offers a touch of the rich, West African sound (the name, “Farka Touré” comes to mind); moreso, than Denson’s other band, The Grey Boy Allstars. From the newly released KTDU album, Brother’s Keeper, we start off with the big, Motown-sounding tune, Shake It Out, which is just slightly reminiscent of The Temps’ Get Ready; a perfect lead into the songs to follow, which range in tone from bluesy, sad and soulful to hot, jazzy-funk–or funky-jazz, depending on the track. And then some are just plain melodic, sweet and sexy, like Take It Down Low. To sum it up, pick it up. It’s well worth it.
Just for fun, here’s a little taste of the great Ali Farka Tourè:

And this beautiful piece by his son, Vieux, who is also amazing, live:

As the name suggests, several songs on Brother’s Keeper speak openly about faith, which for Mr. Denson is Christianity. The following quote is taken from his CD Jacket:

We who live in a free society often forget about the concept of being free. We begin to think of freedom as the natural state of mankind, when in reality our natural state is to dominate and be dominated. It is by an extraordinary blessing that we are being dominated by the very freedom we’ve created. We are now free to forget how we got here and how much it cost. Alongside the comfort that freedom provides is the ability/tendency to isolate and disconnect.

…Make a conscious effort to reconnect with the people around you. To sum it all up, ‘Love Your Neighbor As Yourself.’ Yes I’m My Brother’s Keeper!

Guitarist, Brian Jordan.

Guitarist, Brian Jordan.

John Staten on drums.

John Staten on drums.

In a recent blog I wrote about theme songs. I believe it’s good to have at least one. I definitely have more than one, but this is without a doubt, one of my favorites: KDTU’s Because of Her Beauty. Frankly, I’m surprised Nike hasn’t tried to snatch it up for a “Just Do It” TV spot. But then again, maybe they have. I listen to it when I go running… in my Adidas.

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Certain Voices Make a Difference.

September 19th, 2009 No comments
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Mary Travers. Nov. 9, 1936 – Sept. 16, 2009

Mary Travers died this week at age 72. There are some that would have called her the “bubble gum” of folk music, but they would have been wrong to do so. The voices of Peter, Paul and Mary; together in their perfect harmonies were powerful enough to ring out clearly through the chaos, excitement and confusion that were the sixties, and what’s more; their popularity transcended the wings of politics. It’s hard to argue with truth, and particularly when it is presented in such an agreeable fashion. The house I grew up in was conservative. Nevertheless, songs like If I Had a Hammer, and 500 Miles lulled me to sleep as a little child, and for that, I am grateful.

Certain voices make a difference, and it’s a good thing that they do. If you believe something, say so, and say it like you mean it.

The words of Alfred Lord Tennyson, as quoted by Edward M. Kennedy:

I am a part of all that I have met…
Tho much is taken, much abides…
That which we are, we are–

One equal temper of heroic hearts,

…strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

Here’s one more for the long, lonesome track: sweet dreams, CreativeBeasts. Sweet dreams, Mary. May you rest well.

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Music As Creative Juice: What’s Your Pleasure?

September 9th, 2009 2 comments
Jackson Pollock - Autumn Rhythm (number 30), 1950

Jackson Pollock - Autumn Rhythm (number 30), 1950

When I was a teenager, my father once punished me by taking my stereo away because I wasn’t meeting certain academic expectations. I think it was by far, the worst punishment I received. I could be grounded or anything else, but to be without music was like being without light… or water. Thank God for music. I don’t mean to sound trite or to make an inane remark, but I think it’s worth noting what an effect and impact music has on the creativity of others. Now that we have passed another Labor Day, so marks the unofficial end of summer, and with fall comes different flavors and smells, somber colors, different pastimes, and a different spin on creativity. And while even the music we listen to might change somewhat with the seasons, our need for the inspiration and comfort it lends, does not. From Jackson Pollock to Paul Thomas Anderson, Creative Beasts of all kinds have been and will continue to be driven and influenced by the power of music.

I would also like to once again note the cyclical nature of creativity, and in turn; pause for a moment to consider how Creative Beasts need and affect one another. Art in any form and at any level is something that stimulates us and inspires us–an idea–a spark–a birth… created by an individual. It seems that many artists and/or scientists are multi-talented and explore their creativity in multiple facets; for example, a singer-songwriter who also paints, such as John Mellencamp, or a scientist who draws and paints, like Leonardo Da Vinci–or is it the other way around? You get my point. Creative minds are excited by ideas, by freshness, by wonderment and discovery, and by the ability to bring something that encompasses these things to fruition–and to experience the creations of others. That said, it makes sense that many creative types have multiple areas of focus, and multiple passions in their lives. Music makes order out of chaos–even chaotic music. It combines sound and rhythm with thought and puts it in a frame to create a structure. I know that music has a tremendous impact on me and my creativity. I can’t imagine my life without it.

Jackson Pollock was heralded as the leader of the Abstract Expressionist movement in art and pioneered what became known as “action painting.” It’s a well known fact that his art was largely influence by the modern jazz music of his day, which seems to make perfect sense when you view his work; especially in person. He was particularly a big fan of Charlie Parker’s and Dizzie Gillespie’s, but in general, loved rocking–and painting to bebop. Listen to this gorgeous piece titled Autumn in New York by The Bird, himself; Mr. Charlie Parker. Perhaps it had a hand in the outcome of Pollock’s piece shown above.

Additionally, and throughout the history of cinema, great directors are naturally influenced by music, and are keenly aware of just how intrinsically it becomes part of the art which is film. A few of my favorites include Martin Scorsese, Stanley Kubrick, David Lynch, and last but definitely not least, Paul Thomas Anderson, who states that he indeed, “writes to music.” He freely admits that the screenplay for Magnolia could be called “an adaptation of Aimee Mann songs.” The film is among my favorites, dark as it may be; and is absolutely brilliantly crafted–and so, might I add–is the music. The following quote from Anderson is taken from the introduction of the shooting script for Magnolia.

The connection of writing “from the gut” and “writing to music” cannot be found any clearer than in the “Wise Up” section of the screenplay. I had reached the end of Earl’s monologue and was searching for a little vibe–I wrote as I listened–and the most natural course of action was that everyone should sing– sing how they feel. In the most good old-fashioned Hollywood Musical Way, each character, and the writer, began singing how they felt. This is one of those things that just happens, and I was either too stupid or not scared enough to hit “delete” once done. Next thing you know, you’re filming it. And I’m Really Happy That It Happened.

Here’s that amazing scene [WARNING: This scene contains adult situations]:

Here, Scorsese takes a very different approach by using the cheery 60s sound of The Crystals, followed by Scottish artist, Donovan’s trippy Atlantis, and juxtaposes the music with a disturbingly violent portrayal of Tommy, played by Joe Pesci [WARNING: This scene contains adult language and graphic violence]:

David Lynch writes in his book, Catching the Big Fish,

The music has to marry with the picture and enhance it. You can’t just lob something in and think it’s going to work, even if it’s one of your all-time favorite songs. That piece of music may have nothing to do with the scene. When it marries, you can feel it. The thing jumps; a “whole is greater than the sum of the parts” kind of thing can happen.

Here is a shining example of how David Lynch “marries” music with cinema:

So. How does music affect you? And your creativity? What are your influences? Where do you get turned on to new music? Do you have a theme song (And yes, I stole that notion from a scene from the cheesy old show, Ally McBeal, in which Dr. Tracy Clark demands that Ally choose a theme song for herself. What can I say? It stuck with me, and I must give credit where it is due)? My theme song changes, but I think for now, it is Passion Pit‘s Moth’s Wings (is it just me, or does Michael Angelakos remind you of Peter Gabriel?), which I first heard on 88.9 Radio Milwaukee. I can’t think of a better song to lead us into fall.

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Sleepwalking In Racine.

August 19th, 2009 No comments
View from the driver's seat... looking forward.

View from the driver's seat... looking forward.

View from the rear.

View from the rear.

The Glamour of Being a P.A. and Salvation Via Hugh MacLeod.

The truth is, I didn’t sleep. Not one wink. I was a very good P.A. My ultra-cool and glamorous job was to section off street parking spaces on Main Street in Racine, Wisconsin at 3rd and Main, and then see to it that no one parked in them. Now. Before we go further, let it be said that Any. Idiot. Can. Do. This. Job. But it takes a very special kind of idiot to want to do this job. That would be me.

My shift began at midnight last week, Thursday; August 13th. “P.A.,” for those of you who are unfamiliar, stands for “Production Assistant.” In the caste system of the film world, “P.A.” is the equivalent to “Untouchable.” No one who is above you wants to be you. And “Parking P.A.” is below “P.A.” When you work as a regular P.A., you generally and at least get to see a little action. You may even get to bring water to someone “important.” Such is not the case when you are a parking P.A. You get to set up and guard parking spots. That’s it.

When I got the phone call at 11:30 a.m. for P.A. work, I said, “Yes!” Almost instantly. Then Mindy told me what my job for the night would be.

“Are you okay with that? I mean, are you comfortable with telling people they can’t park in our spots?”

“Sure,” I said. “…Wait… am I going to be the only one there?”

“Um, yeah.” She replied.

“Because you know, this is Racine.” I added.

“Yeah, I don’t really know the area.”

“Oh, well. Yeah, sure. I can do it.”

“Great!” She then gave me the information and asked me to meet her and the production crew at 10 p.m. at the Radisson in Racine. I left Milwaukee at 9 p.m., without having slept at all during the day. Having packed a bag that included toiletries, saline solution, a contact lens case, extra clothes, my Coleman lantern/flashlight and some reading material, I felt prepared and up to the task. I stopped at Walgreens for a couple of Starbucks Doubleshots and some beef jerky for my long night ahead.

When I got into Racine just before ten o’clock, I overshot my turn and went over the bridge on Main Street, which evidently serves as a bit of a borderline between “good” Racine, and “not-so-good” Racine. Seems like nearly every town has these unspoken borders, but in the Midwest they are often–and unfortunately–fairly noticeable.

After crossing the bridge, I stopped across the street from a bar where I saw a group of college boys about to enter. As I got out of my car, a blue van buzzed by the group of boys, and suddenly, there was a “POP-POP-POP-POP!” sound, hysterical laughter, and a heart-stopping yell that only comes of injury. The van sped away, leaving the boys with bewildered, scared and angry faces; varying in color from red to ghostly-white. One of the boys had been shot in the thigh with a paint ball gun. After a moment’s pause, I swallowed and followed them into the bar.

I asked the boy who had been shot if he was okay, to which he proudly responded, “Yeah, I’m fine! I’m f***ing pissed, but I’m fine.”

“You need to call the police.”

“What are they gonna do?”

“I don’t know, but they need to know that someone is driving around town shooting people with a paint ball gun.”

“That’s true,” he said.

I then turned to one of the uninjured boys, and explained that I had missed my turn, and was looking for the Radisson Hotel. He told me to go back over the bridge and take a left at the stop light. He added that our current location was, “Not a place you want to be.” I smiled and thanked him, and made my way back to my car. Welcome to Racine.

When I got to the hotel, I entered the room to find a pretty typical-looking production camp that included several young guys and two women, and the Production Supervisor. They all had the cool and hip film crew renegade look; the supervisor being the hippest of all; complete with shaved head–save the pointy dart sideburns and soul patch–muscles, grey jeans, t-shirt, olive skin, and khaki converse all-stars with the shoelaces removed for easy access. He reminded me a little of Nero in Star Trek, except not as tall. Everyone was busy at either a laptop or a cell phone or both, except for the three P.A. guys. They were completing odd tasks such as making signs… and awaiting more instructions. I shook hands with everyone, and sat down to await my own instructions. I talked with one of the other P.A.s–a nice guy who was also from Milwaukee, but originally from Racine. He’s also in a band. After sitting around for about twenty minutes, Nero asked me to follow him and Nice Guy out to the van. “So it’s an interesting job, eh?” Nero said to me in the elevator. He spoke with what seemed to be an Eastern European accent… I couldn’t quite place it.

“Yeah? What’s interesting about it?” I asked. I thought he was referring to the project. I should have known it was strictly small talk.

“Well, you’re the parking P.A.”

“Oh.” I chuckled. “You mean my task. Well, it has to get done, right?” That was more or less the end of that conversation.

We rode several blocks to 3rd and Main, where I would be working. Nero pointed out where on Main Street he wanted the crew, as well as a small section of 3rd Street. He assured me that if I ran into any trouble, I could call them and they would come to help. I figured what that really meant was, “If you’re being held at gunpoint, call us after you dial 9-1-1.” He added, “The police station is right around the corner.”

Nice Guy and I dropped Nero back at the hotel, and then to where I was parked to transfer the cones from the van to my little Subaru Impreza Sport, which was soon chock full of cones. We walked back to the hotel together, to find a stack of full pizza boxes in the room when we reentered. I reluctantly had two pieces, only because I felt like it was the polite thing to do. I had already eaten dinner and was not much in the mood for mozz and sausage, and anyway, it was about 11 p.m.

I hung out for about another half hour, and since I wasn’t feeling too useful there, I announced that I was heading out to set up my own camp.

“Okay,” the assistant supervisor (I will call her ‘Joanne’) said. “You sure you don’t want some more pizza? Take it with you for later?”

“No, really. Thanks,” I said with a smile. “I’m all set with my Starbucks Doubleshots.”

“Good call. Okay, well, we’ll call you later to check in and see how you’re doing.”

“Thanks,” I said, and headed off to begin my adventure.

I parked in the middle of Main Street across from a place called Evelyn’s Club Main. The street seemed busy for a Wednesday night, but then I guess I don’t really know what a busy night in Racine looks like. Maybe it just seemed noisier than I thought it would be. A group of drunk kids–guys and girls–walked down the street yelling things to each other. I couldn’t really figure out what, nor did I care. At one point, two of the scantily clad girls plopped themselves down in the middle of the sidewalk and just yelled a blue streak. I think they were upset at the bartender at Evelyn’s. I think he kicked them out. Could you blame him? I was glad they were on the other side of the street. It was early for me to start setting up, but I was antsy, so I figured I would start with spots that were empty and then wait until more people cleared out. Evelyn’s was jumpin’. It sounded like screamo was their music of choice, and I say “sounded” like, because I don’t really know that much about screamo, except that I think it’s the kind of “music” in which people pretty much just scream the entire time. I have to think that somewhere along the line, it stops being cathartic for the screamer… if catharsis was ever even a goal… It’s difficult to say. Personally, I think I’d rather listen to dreamo music. Stuff that will lull me to sleep and provide me with sweet dreams. Stuff like Enya. The weird side of that, though, is that even Enya can drive people to want to hurt themselves after a while. That’s why you can never go wrong with Lynyrd Skynyrd. But I digress.

As I was setting up my cones (notice how they are now my cones), a bartender from Evelyn’s asked me what I was doing, and if it was okay for people to stay in their spots. I explained that everyone was just fine, and the spots were needed for the morning. The goal was to not upset the townies. I went about my business of setting up cones where I could, and then returning to my car to read my book. I was about eighty pages into it. It’s a short, quick read called, Ignore Everybody And 39 Other Keys to Creativity. It may have saved my life that night–or if not mine; somebody else’s. The book was a gift from my friend, Anthony (thanks, Anthony–truly–great book. You rock). Hugh MacLeod is a copywriter, but moreover, he is a CreativeBeast. Let me just say that if you dig my blog at all, and you get what it is that I’m after (the answers to life’s deepest mysteries… such as the alchemy used in the making of the world’s most perfect chocolates), then you will completely and utterly adore Hugh MacLeod. Have you ever met someone (or come across someone) who had such a way of saying things, that it made you say,”I wish I could have said it like that.” That’s how I feel about Hugh MacLeod. I once heard Bruce Springstein speak wistfully about how he wished that he could sing like Roy Orbison. I get that. Hugh, for the most part, says what I feel, and he says it with such style and grace, wit and grit. He’s highly original, and I’d like to think that part of that comes from being Scottish… Anyway, chapter 11 is called, The more talented somebody is, the less they need the props. It’s a couple of pages long, but really, the title says it all. And Chapter 9 is called, Companies that squelch creativity can no longer compete with companies that champion creativity… that’s what I was getting at with my previous post, called, So you don’t fit in. Good (thanks for the affirmation, Hugh!). This guy makes you think. He makes you ask yourself, “What is it that you really want out of your creativity?” His book will crack you up, but it will really get you thinking, too. Read it. I finished it before daylight. And check out his website: http:www.gapingvoid.com.

Outside of reading my book, I waited for the remaining Ghoulies to drag–I mean drive–themselves off of Main Street, so I could put up the rest of the cones, and hopefully spend what remained of my watch, peacefully. At around 2 a.m., the last Ghoulies stumbled out of Evelyn’s and other places (Ivanhoe’s, maybe?), and back to their cars. One group of drunk’ins made up of a couple of guys and several girls saw that there were cones around their car when they got to it, which upset them, evidently. I don’t know why; it wasn’t as though anyone was blocked in… Anyway, one of the guys picked up a cone and hurled it across the street. I got out of my car, and stomped over to them. “Hey!” I said. “Did you just throw that cone across the street?” They said nothing and the girl behind the wheel simply drove off. “Yeah, you better get out of here!” I yelled after them as I picked up the cone from the other side of the road and carried it back to its proper spot. Then about half an hour later, another guy from across the street decided to just remove four of my cones and take them to the other side of the street. “Hey, what are you doing?” I barked.

“I’m moving cones. What are you doing?” He answered.

“Put those down right now!” I chased after him, and he just casually dropped them on the sidewalk and went up to his apartment. I grabbed the cones and put them back where they belonged, and flipped off the window on the second floor. Fuming, I got back into my car and returned to my book. I made sure all the windows were down slightly, so I could hear if someone was coming. With the recent activity, I was wide awake and feeling rather like a target. I tried to read with one eye, while keeping the other on the street. The clock ticked away, and not much later, I heard footsteps coming from behind on the sidewalk next to my car. It was a woman carrying some bags. She seemed pretty harmless. Then I heard a “crunch” sound, like something had been tossed and hit the ground. She walked on by like nothing happened, so I figured that nothing did. After a while when the street had finally become silent, I got out and walked around to help myself stay awake. Then I noticed it. Next to my car on the driver’s side was a splattered egg. Some of it had reached my tire, but I didn’t spot any on the actual body of my car, which was good. I heard that raw eggs can take the paint right off, so if you do get bombed, you have to get your car washed immediately. I got back in once again, and this time I laughed out loud. “Unreal,” I thought. “This is the lowest I have felt on any job–maybe ever.” I recounted the chain of events in my head. I pictured myself chasing after young men roughly twice my size, and yelling at them about cones, and wondered if they didn’t argue with me simply out of not wanting to have to deal with a crazy lady. I pictured a rotten little prick-college twerp heaving an egg at my car from his apartment window. “There are better ways to get ahead,” I thought. Just then, a strange, bedraggled, very tall man with long hair and a knit cap walked past me on the sidewalk. “Please don’t notice me. Please don’t notice me,” I silently prayed. He noticed me. He stopped in his tracks, and stared at me. I stared back like a deer in the headlights. He just smiled, and gently waved the “wax-on” wave to me. I waved back with a half-smile… “wax-off.” He smiled again, and walked on by, and I sighed in relief. I think he was the most normal person I encountered the entire night… er, morning.

At about 3:30 a.m. I drank my second Doubleshot, and finished my book within the hour. Just before the first signs of daybreak, a huge, noisy truck drove up behind me–and–you guessed it–rolled right over my cones. It was a water truck, coming to give the city’s flowers that hung from the lamp posts their morning drink with a giant sprayer that was rigged to the back to match the height of the posts. I jumped out of my car and waved up at the driver with both arms. “Hi,” I said.

“Hi,” he replied. “I need to water the flowers,” he said with a friendly smile.

“Okay, no problem. Let me just get the cones out of your way.”

“I’ll help you,” he said.

“Thanks!” I raced up the street and made room for him to move through without destroying my setup. Just as quickly as he watered the plants, he set most of the cones back in place before I could even get to them. He was like Santa Claus. And before I could say “Jack Robinson,” he was on down the lane, and I watched him fade into the distance; a happy truck for happy flowers. In a couple of hours, the sun would be up. Joggers were starting to surface. That was weird. Joggers in and of themselves are not so strange. Joggers at 4:30 and 5 a.m. are very strange. “Yeah, there’s nothing I would rather do at 4:30 a.m., than get up and jog!” Nothing except maybe sleep.

Speaking of sleep, it was starting to hit me. I walked up and down Main Street to avoid the sandman. I peeked into the shop windows, and snap a few photos. “What a cute street,” I thought. “What cute shops.” If I didn’t know better, I would think that the cutest, smartest people lived right in Racine, from the look of Main Street during daylight hours. I wondered if I would actually get to see any of them. It occurred to me that downtown Racine might be a good setting for a horror movie: Swellsville by day, Hellsville by night.

Cute-looking Italian restaurant.

Cute-looking Italian restaurant.

Cute hair weave shop.

Cute hair weave shop.

Jo-Jo's Toy Shop: cute, cute, cute.

Jo-Jo's Toy Shop: cute, cute, cute.

As the day became brighter, traffic picked up considerably. Then Mindy called. “How’s everything going?” She asked.

“Oh, fine,” I said, feeling rather drunk from lack of sleep. “I could use a bathroom break, though.”

“Oh. I didn’t even think of that,” She said. “Well, why don’t you just shoot over to the hotel for a few minutes? Do things seem pretty secure?”

“Yep. I’ll do that.”

“Okay. Joanne said she thinks I can relieve you at about 8:30. Is that cool?”

“Sounds good.”

After my potty break, I decided I could probably use another caffeinated beverage. There was a fake Starbucks in the hotel lobby, and I ordered a grande mocha from the boy barista. He didn’t know what it was, and explained that he had only started three days ago. “Do I use the white chocolate or the dark chocolate?”

“How cruel,” I thought to myself. I explained to the kid what a mocha was, and that I was once in his shoes (except I left out the part that I had been consuming espresso since he was a spark in his dad’s eye, and that he at least ought to try it to get an idea of how it should taste). I gave him a couple of quick tips on the fine art of barista-ing, since it was evident he had only been given the two minute crash course, and crash, he would. Oh, well. Not everything is meant to be.

After about seven minutes he handed me a cup. “Well, here you go. I hope it tastes like it should.”

“I’m sure it’ll be great,” I said, smiling. It tasted like Swiss Miss instant cocoa. I hustled back to my car, and back to my post. Everything was fine. No ghoulies.

EXT. 3rd AND MAIN - DAY

EXT. 3rd AND MAIN - EARLY MORNING

Suddenly, Nero called, and he was yelling–telling me do something. “I’m thinking we’ll need more parking spaces… like another block’s worth,” Was what I could make out. The traffic was terrible and very loud, so that combined with his accent… and then there was the fact that I hadn’t slept in twenty four hours… “I want you to block off more spaces on the north side of Main Street.”

“The north side of Main Street…” I looked around. There was an east and west side of Main, but there was definitely not a north side.

“Hon-ey, Hon-ey,” that was what he called me. “Do you know where Milwaukee is?”

“Yes. Look, it’s very difficult to hear. Traffic is bad.” I was getting a little irked. First he calls me ‘Honey,’ and then he insults me. And we’re not even sleeping together.

“Okay, so NORTH of where we set up on Main–north of 3rd Street, on the west side of Main.” Now he was making sense.

“Okay.”

“Got it?”

“Got it.”

“Thank you, Honey.” He hung up.

“Oh no, thank YOU, Honey,” I thought, as I hung up.

I set up my new row of cones, sans problems.

The Main Street General Store. So cute I almost puked.

The Main Street General Store. So cute I almost puked.

Then Mindy called. “Hey, I’m running about twenty minutes late. I have to run an errand, so I’ll see you around 9:30, okay? If you see a cafe or something, feel free to grab yourself something to eat.”

“Okay.” What else could I say? But I was hitting my wall. Sleep was coming whether or not I wanted it to. I sat on a bench and pretended to read my copy of The New Yorker. Who was I kidding?

I felt like crap. I needed a shower. I spotted a Dunn’s Coffee across from my new row of cones. I went in and got a Pom Wonderful and a pre-made breakfast sandwich from their cooler. I took my warmed up sandwich and juice, and went back to my car to eat. I don’t even remember what kind of sandwich it was. A bacon-egg-with-cheese paste ball, I think. I could barely swallow it. Yuck. I got out and sat on the bench again. I did my best to keep my head up. Then I spotted Mindy walking towards me from across the street. She looked like a tall angel wearing jeans, a t-shirt and sunglasses–the sun shrouding her like a halo. “Hey!” She said, smiling. “How’d it go?”

“Great!” I said. I gave her the 30 second version of my graveyard shift, and the receipt from my meal at Dunn’s, which she traded me cash for.

She said, “Well, I know you probably want to get some sleep.”

“Yes,” was all I could say with a weak smile.

“Drive safely.”

“Thanks. Let’s keep in touch.”

It was hot and perfectly sunny as I drove back to Milwaukee, and I made it all the way home without crashing into anyone. Or anything.

I’ll sign off with a quote from Hugh MacLeod… Chapter 38: Meaning scales, people don’t.

“Anything worth doing takes a lot practice. Adventures included.” — H.M.

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Star Trek vs. Harry Potter: Let Your Geek Flag Fly.

July 29th, 2009 1 comment

harry_potter_half_blood_princestar_trek_spock_poster2Summer movies. What joy, and of course, the unfailing defeater of heat and humidity. As for 2009, we welcomed the return of two old favorites; Star Trek–and thankfully; featuring fresh, young faces with the exception of the ever-celebrated Leonard Nimoy as “old Spock,” and a not-quite-so-old, yet unequivocally loved by millions–Harry Potter.

I was fortunate to see Star Trek on the Imax screen, and I say “fortunate,” because it was an absolute thrill of a film. Now, personally, I’m a moderate Trekkie. I don’t buy the uniform shirts and wear them like my older brother (at least he doesn’t listen to “Learn to speak Klingon” tapes)… although this flick just might get me to reconsider that possibility… Nevertheless, I can truly say that whether you’re a fan of the old show, or a virgin cadet experiencing the final frontier for the first time, I think you just might be a little weird if you don’t like this movie. It’s action packed in a smart way that is extremely well-paced, and offers everything a good summer movie should: suspense, romance, rebel-heroes, a super-bad villain that we love to hate, nail-biting cliff-hangers and comic relief. And of course, the special effects are completely awesome. Additionally, the characters are keenly crafted, and again; in a way that is fun and fresh, yet without neglecting to tip the hat to all the traits we love about the original crew. And might I add that this was also done quite cleverly by illustrating, for example, such points as what a rogue Kirk was when it came to the ladies, and how Bones was just as ridden with anxiety as a young man as he was as a seasoned doctor. These are the kind of details that make scripts fun for the actors, and provide the necessary chuckles for the audience; making veteran Trekkies feel either really cool, or really geeky for getting all the inside jokes… or a bit of both. I almost feel guilty for doing so, but I give this film my highest rating of four stars (Great film. Would for sure, go see it again in the theater. Will buy the DVD so that I can watch it again, whenever I want to). For its genre, it pulls all the stops and offers everything it should; from good acting to high-speed space-chase drama, Star Trek (2009) is spot-on. It’s exactly what a summer action movie is supposed to be: loads of fun.

Now, for Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Ohhh, dear Harry. What have we done? I really wish I could be even somewhat as enthusiastic about this one as I am about Star Trek… Sorry. I can’t. And truth be told, I’m more of a Harry Potter dork than I am a Trekkie, but I say this with caveats. For instance, you will not catch me dead in a Hogwarts getup, so help me God (though I do have a friend who I must say, looks pretty cute when he sports his Gryffindor sweater and tie). I have read all the books, however; so my Harry Potter lexicon is pretty decent. That said, I have a firm grasp on the differences between movies and books, and what one is able to accomplish as well as sacrifice when adapting a book to the screen, and with that said–I unfortunately found more failures than successes in this particular adaptation. Actually, I think the film failed on so many levels, that it was embarrassing to watch. It is as though many key folks have become altogether lazy. The telling of the story, itself, is disjointed and frankly hobbles along like a dying donkey. Where the plot is concerned, things are out of focus. Points that are less important are highlighted, and key elements are not. We have Ron and Hermione’s ridiculous non-relationship (which we see too much of) versus the gist–which is that the evil Voldemort is using every extension possible to carry out his plan–which is to ethnically cleanse the world of all but “pure-blood wizards (which we see but a smidge of).” I question who is to blame, here. Is it the writer? The director? Or maybe studio executives? Because J.K. Rowling apparently felt her readers were capable of digesting such a concept, but it seems someone at Warner Brothers must disagree, or thinks that the heavier side of Rowling’s tale doesn’t sell well on screen. We get in the film that there is a big, bad Dark Lord with lots of scary and creepy minions, but in the end, this film never really explains why. Why is Voldemort gaining power? Why aren’t more of the wizards on the good side? And what about The Order of the Phoenix? Wasn’t that the previous chapter in the series? There is little recap, and even less in terms of introduction of characters. Unless you know the books inside and out (and pardon me, but I, for one, don’t have time to go back and read them. Harry Potter homework? Give me a break), you may find yourself at a loss as to what the heck is really going on, and even if you are an HP expert, you may still find it challenging. And if you haven’t seen the other films or read the books, forget it. It will make no sense. Part of a series or no, a film should be able to stand on its own, and this one doesn’t, plain and simple.

Did I say that the kids–that is to say, Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), Ron (Rupert Grint) and Hermione (Emma Watson) are in general–pretty dull? They are. Their characters–and this is the sixth installment–are thin, at best. This is not the seventies, nor is it Disney’s Escape To Witch Mountain (which come to think of it, is probably the better film). People are getting murdered, and it’s not supposed to be silly or funny. To be fair, the kids probably did not have much to work with where lines are concerned. If I had a nickel for the amount of times Harry said “Sir?” to Dumbledore, as if he has a hearing problem, I would have my money back for the film. This is an area in the adaptation where liberties could and should be taken. Older cast members such as Alan Rickman (Snape), Michael Gambon (Dumbledore) are outstanding, as usual–they know how to turn sows’ ears into silk purses. Tom Felton does decent work as Draco Malfoy, though his ugly sneer seems a tad hammy and overdone at times. Both boys playing Tom Riddle; the young Voldemort–Hero Fiennes-Tiffin plays Riddle at age 11, and Frank Dillane plays him at 16–together, these boys steal the show, and easily are the scariest thing about the film. They are each subtly evil in a way that is bone-chilling, and they do it with looks, gestures and mannerisms. Sorry, but putting Dan Radcliffe’s Harry in the ring with any of these Voldemorts (and that includes Ralph Fiennes) seems laughable. Speaking of which, he (Radcliffe) needs to learn how to cry. It was frustrating to watch him pretend to grieve when (SPOILER ALERT) Dumbledore died. I wanted to believe it. I wanted to cry, but for the wrong reasons. And Rupert Grint pretending to be happy about blocking goals in quidditch was like watching a skit on Saturday Night Live. He should see a football (soccer) game or two, to get an idea of how goalies really react when they make a save… ecstatically. Heck, soccer players are better actors when it comes to faking injury. And perhaps director, David Yates could consult a bit with Peter Jackson.

Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince gets two and half stars (I would rent it–had I not already paid to see it in the theater, and I would only rent it because it was part of a series of which I have seen the previous films). I believe I’m being generous, but the stars go to the good actors, and I suppose, the sets and special effects.

And so needless to say, Star Trek wins; hands down.

For the latest and greatest opinions on films of all genres (like them or not), visit metacritic.

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“This is MY table!”

July 22nd, 2009 3 comments
Fireworks at Festa Italiana:  worth fighting for... or at least to some people.

Fireworks: worth fighting for... at least to some people.

Last Sunday I went with some pals to Festa Italiana; a Milwaukee tradition I’ve come to love. It’s fun, kinda cheesy, and for the most part, completely American–well–okay… Italian-American. You’re bound to find performances by Frank Sinatra and Elvis impersonators, and other little known Las Vegas types. There’s The Golden Age of Opera Tent that holds a truly beautiful collection of rare recordings, old posters and photos that used to be run by Dominic Frinzi. He passed away in January of 2008, but his tradition and love of opera is carried on in the tent, and now on what is called “The Dominic H. Frinzi Memorial Stage.” Other than that, there are loads of choices where cheesy-cuisie (pizza) is concerned, and if you want other stuff like fried calamari, or fried eggplant, or fried mozzarella sticks, you’ll have luck with those, too. You’ll even find octopus salad… just don’t ask the gal at Pietro’s for pizza, like the guy who stood next to me in line. “We don’t serve that here; that’s American!” She barked. Although when I asked her if she knew where I could get some scungilli, she said she’d never heard of it. I used to always get it at Festa, but I couldn’t find it this time. If anyone knows who still serves it there, let me know. What I do know is that if there’s one thing you can bet on, that is that the firework displays are always, and without a doubt–awesome. With snacks in hand, my friends and I walked back to meet our group where they were reserving a spot for us on the rocks by Lake Michigan. However, since we had yet to eat, Francesca, Demitra and I stopped at a nearby picnic table to make life a little easier while we dined. A couple was already sitting there at the other end, though, and the woman said assertively, “We have people coming.”

Fran said, “Well, we’ll just eat, and then we’ll move when they get here.”

The woman said nothing, and neither did her husband, so we went on with our meals and conversation, when suddenly, there was a loud thud on the table. I looked over and the woman now had a brick in her hand. I thought she must have been mad about something, but I didn’t think it was us. Her people hadn’t come yet. But then she started muttering something about, “I gotta sit at this f***ing table for five hours, and I don’t get to walk around and have any fun!”

“I think she might be upset that we’re sitting here.” I said.

We all sat and looked at one another like, “What do we do?”

“Well, she’s got a brick, you guys,” I added. Then I turned to the gal. “Look, if it’s a problem for ya, we’ll move.”

“Yeah, it’s a problem! And go ahead and talk about me! I’ve only been holding this table for five hours!”

We collected our stuff and moved towards the rocks. “Have fun watching the fireworks,” I said as I got up. “Thanks for sharing the table.”

She glared at me with dagger-eyes, and said something like, “You can go to hell!”

My friends and I sat on the rocks and ate our various fried items and drank our beers. “I don’t know why she thought she had to sit for five hours,” Demitra said. “We got here an hour ago, and look at this great spot we got.”

I laughed. “Yeah, I mean it was pretty much her choice. Oh, well. I guess that’s why she carries that brick.” Soon thereafter, the fireworks started, and as always, they were awesome.

Afterwards, we got some gelato… spumoni for me. Also awesome. As the vendors packed up their supplies and said arrivederci until next year, I thought with a smile, “How in the heck can anybody be pissed off at Festa Italiana? Oh, well.”

A conch shell. Scungilli in Italian.

A conch shell. 'Scungilli' in Italian.

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Talkin’ ‘Bout My Generation–Generate: A MIAD Alumni Exhibit.

July 21st, 2009 1 comment
Generate:  An Exhibition of Work by MIAD Alumni--Opening night.

Generate: An Exhibition of Work by MIAD Alumni--Opening night.

Friday; July 10th, I had the pleasure to attend the opening of Generate: An Exhibition of Work by MIAD Alumni. I would say it was a great way to beat the heat, but seeing as how this has been one of the coolest summers Milwaukee has seen in some time, it seems only right to say that the heat was right there at what is formerly known as The Paper Boat Gallery; Bastille Days notwithstanding. The show features the works of twenty two artists; some of whom reside in Milwaukee, and others who are now in other places such as New York, L.A. and Tokyo.

Aside from a well-dressed table of fine munchies, not to mention wine and a decent selection of bottled beer, the crowd was a stylie Chex mix of artists, professors and art lovers. Curated by MIAD alumna, Cassandra Smith (class of ’06); the exhibit demonstrated both the challenges and opportunities one is presented with when attempting to fit so many artists’ works in a space of approximately one thousand square feet. In some ways, it was very successful, and in other ways, it felt a bit too “cozy.” These things aside; the show was anything but boring.

If I had to put a label on this group, it would be “Smartists.” Across the board, the art is beautifully crafted and engaging, and while each artist has a unique style and a distinct voice, it seems that this group of work on the whole, has its own dialog taking place, and the conversation is fresh and refreshing.

Having had the chance to speak at length with a handful of the artists, who in general, range from twenty to thirty-something, I gathered that they are driven and vision-oriented; serious, but with a sense of humor or playfulness, despite the fact that some of the work may be rather dark in terms of subject matter, and speaks in a somber tone.

Hand-embroidered works by Rebecca Tanner offer up a bittersweetness and black-humored irony with phrases not commonly seen in such a light, but chances are, each of us has heard some of them a time or two… and maybe this time, with a new twist. She says that it’s her therapy–a way for her to work out her thoughts.

Jesus Ali filmed and recorded a friend’s five year old daughter singing Turn Into by Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Beautifully shot and directed, the child’s performance is hauntingly beyond her years in the sense that she seems to understand the gravity of the words she sings and apparently knows by heart. It’s a remarkable piece juxtaposing innocence and the ways of the world.

Colin Dickson’s piece, Attack, recalls images of pathogenic bacteria on a giant scale. Interestingly, when I mentioned this to him, he brightened at this interpretation, and said that he had transformed the piece entirely when he moved it to its current space, which is how he prefers to work. He allows the space, itself, to help determine the final outcome and lay of the work.

Marla Sanvick’s video piece is intimate and somehow familiar, yet surrealistically alien at the same time. Regardless of the fact that there is no audio component, I wanted to view this one in silence, and will return to the gallery to do so on a less busy occasion.

We are living in difficult times, and that is not something that is missed by these artists. Art provides meaning in what can seem like an otherwise meaningless world, and it also calls attention to things we may not wish to see, but should… things such as absurdity, greed and brutality. It lends the ability to create one’s own world, whether that means entertaining certain fantasies, or simply “whistling in the dark.” Whatever the case may be, it is a powerful coping mechanism, indeed.

Following are a few highlights from the show:

Artist:  Kimberly Weiss

Work of artist, Kimberly Weiss.

Gallery goers viewing and listening to work by Jesus Ali

Gallery goers viewing and listening to work by Jesus Ali.

Works by artist, Rebecca Tanner

Works by artist, Rebecca Tanner.

Work of artist, Jeremy Wolf.

Work of artist, Jeremy Wolf.

Work of artist, Mayuko Kono.

Work of artist, Mayuko Kono.

Detail of work by artist, Mary Dibiasio.

Detail of work by artist, Mary Dibiasio.

Work by artist, Colin Dickson.

Work by artist, Colin Dickson.

Left to right:  Rebecca Tanner and Dawn Frank.

Left to right: Rebecca Tanner talks with Dawn Frank.

Left to right:  Jill Broekhuizen and son, Lodi Broekhuizen.

Left to right: Jill Broekhuizen and son, Lodi Broekhuizen.

So, Creative Beasts, remember that this Friday; July 24th is Milwaukee’s Gallery Night, and definitely put this show on your list of ones to see.

Here’s Yeah Yeah Yeahs:

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Keep Going. There is beauty yet to come.

July 8th, 2009 1 comment


This blog goes out to my very dear friend, whom I will simply refer to as “Super-T,” who moves and grooves with the dexterity of a lizard, and who sometimes forgets, but he is also the most tater-bob dude that ever existed.

A few days ago, I had the privilege to spend time with another dear friend of mine, Adam–a brilliant artist and graphic designer, and a true Creative Beast. Talking with him inspired me and gave me encouragement.

I begin this post by saying that some friendships are real gifts. And I suppose it is ironic, but I now know it to be true that sometimes what can seem to be the toughest, most challenging friendships of our lives are also sometimes some of the deepest and richest ones–in addition to being the ones that teach us the most valuable lessons. It hearkens the saying that it isn’t the destinations that make us who we are, but the journeys that we make to reach them. Certain journeys–and life changing events–can sometimes crush us… and sometimes they can save us.

I love my friends. I don’t always get to tell them how much the things they do and say–whether they are big or small–matter to me. Sometimes simply possessing the ability to make someone laugh or smile… the ability to evoke–can have a tremendously earth shaking effect. I have said this before, but I’ll say it again: Creative Beasts are powerful, brilliant souls. They tend to be very intense, even if it’s in a very quiet sort of way, but they can also be extremely fragile. This knowledge can be heavy. In our creative circles, we all likely know someone, or perhaps even several people whose intensity is at times, a great joy to come into contact with, and at other times, it’s saddening or maddening. For me, it seems like it’s just about everyone I know. Why? Just lucky, I guess (and if you are one of these people, do me a favor–relax. I’m kidding… sort of. Try not to take yourself so seriously). It’s the agony and the ecstasy. Three of my creative friends have committed suicide, all within the last ten years. First was Dave; a brilliant filmmaker/director who taught me that animators are among the most patient people on the planet… usually. Then there was Jen; a great, beautiful, quiet and quick-witted writer whose wonderful sense of humor was matched by her generous and gracious spirit. Just one year later in November of 2008, I lost my friend, Brian, who was an amazingly gifted photographer, a fantastic cook, and just wickedly sharp in countless ways. Each and every one them had an energy–an intensity–that could fill any room. That said, you can imagine how the loss of each person reverberated. I wish there was something I could have done or said that would have kept each one from doing what they did. I think maybe this is what I would have said: “You have truly lived. You have done great things, and you have experienced great things. And you have touched a lot of lives. Do you really believe that this is it? That there is no more beauty yet to come? If so, you are wrong. Stick around a while. Keep at it. See what happens.”

Creativity doesn’t always flow the way we want it to. Sometimes we feel stuck, and it’s frustrating. Roadblocks are common. David Lynch addresses this issue in his book, Catching The Big Fish. He writes, “If you want to catch the little fish, you can stay in the shallow water. But if you want to catch the big fish, you’ve got to go deeper.” I agree with him. Another factor in the concept of catching these big fish is having creative circles–pools, if you will, in which you may freely express yourself, bounce ideas off of others, and then build on your concepts. No one person is an island, and as it is with anything else, thoughts and expressions that are exchanged freely can exist harmoniously and in a symbiotic manner, like the ebb and flow of the tides. The sharing of ideas allows creativity, itself, to become larger and richer, like a beautiful tapestry. When there is a greater opportunity to draw from a more vibrant lexicon, creative thinkers naturally put that knowledge into everything they do. When we keep things to ourselves out of fear of loss or perhaps rejection, we risk stagnation and even collapse. Even when times are difficult, and perhaps especially when times are difficult, it is better to share and connect with others. We see this example again and again made by successful people throughout history. One example that comes to mind is advertising great, David Ogilvy. He went against the grain and leapt ahead of his competitors by insisting that indeed; you must literally give away your trade secrets to win clients. His peers thought he was crazy, and maybe he was… crazy, like a fox. He was right. His ideas worked, and he made history.

Now David Ogilvy is dead and gone, and some of today’s ad geeks giggle and scoff at his ideas, but I think there isn’t one among them who wouldn’t give their eye teeth to reach the peaks that he did. Genius, as it turns out, is pretty timeless. And it takes bravery–and faith–to be creative. Some people might tell you you’re great, and some might tell you you suck… or that you are crazy. It’s not always easy to push forward, and for whatever reason, it’s sometimes easier to accept defeat or criticism, than it is to accept success and praise. If you have any desire to create, or to see an idea come to fruition, keep going with it. If it’s a passion within you, keep that fire burning. There is a reason for it. You must believe that.

Do you realize that time goes fast?
It’s hard to make the good things last
Do you realize the sun doesn’t go down?
It’s just an illusion caused by the world spinning round.

–The Flaming Lips

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